FFP2 masks for Hartz IV recipients

Social associations had put pressure on: Now 50 million FFP2 masks are to be given free of charge to those in need. In addition, there should be technology for homeschooling children

Hartz IV recipients will each receive ten free FFP2 masks and for children in poor families the job centers will soon cover the costs of laptops for lessons at home. Federal Social Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) and Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) announced this on Thursday in Berlin. The background to the plans are the new corona restrictions on buses, trains and shopping as well as the ongoing school closings.

According to a federal-state decision of January 19, self-made makeshift masks or cloths should no longer be allowed, FFP2 masks or the cheaper surgical masks must be worn instead. Support for poorer people was welcomed by the opposition and social organizations.

Protective means shouldn't depend on the wallet

According to the plans, around five million recipients of basic security should be entitled to the free masks. Those affected would now get a letter from their health insurance company "quickly", as Spahn said. With this and the identity card, the masks can then be picked up from the pharmacy within two weeks.

"It is important in this situation that we keep an eye on society as a whole and not leave any social divisions," said Heil. Necessary means of protection shouldn't be a question of the wallet. It will be put on the road as soon as possible.

The SPD politician also announced that the job centers would be instructed from next week to cover the costs of tablets, laptops or printers so that children in families who are dependent on basic security could take part in the current so-called distance education. What the schools propose or prescribe for it will be adopted, Heil said. The federal government had already launched a 500 million program for laptops for children in need. This is complemented by this.

The federal government had already launched a program for free masks to protect risk groups. Around 34 million citizens aged 60 and over and people with chronic illnesses receive vouchers for twelve FFP2 masks that can be redeemed in the pharmacy. A personal contribution of two euros is due for every six masks. Three free FFP2 masks had also been made available to those affected before the turn of the year.

Associations and politicians are calling for further help

The German Caritas Association welcomed the plans. "This is an important step," said Caritas President Peter Neher on Thursday. He also called for help for others
Groups: "Refugees and people who live in Germany without papers - an estimated at least 180,000 - must be able to obtain these masks," said Neher.

The social policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Pascal Kober, said that the provision of basic security recipients with FFP2 masks was long overdue. The Greens also spoke of an overdue step. "Free masks can only be a first step," said the group spokesman for social policy, Sven Lehmann and the deputy group leader Anja Hajduk, according to a joint statement. As soon as possible, ask for a corona surcharge of 100 euros per month for adults and 60 euros for children on the basic security.

The demand for a financial pandemic compensation for those receiving Hartz IV was also raised by the left, social associations and the CDU social wing. Most recently, Bavaria's Minister of Health Klaus Holetschek (CSU) also joined.